Many of the names in this book (even outside quoted passages) are inconsistently spelt. I have chosen to retain the original spelling treating these as author error rather than typographical carelessness.
Giving Particulars of the Lives & Deaths of the Pirates & Buccaneers
BY PHILIP GOSSE
BURT FRANKLIN: RESEARCH & SOURCE WORKS SERIES 119
Essays in History, Economics & Social Science 51
Published by BURT FRANKLIN 235 East 44th St., New York 10017 Originally Published: 1924 Printed in the U.S.A.
Library of Congress Catalog Card No.: 68-56594 Burt Franklin: Research & Source Works Series 119 Essays in History, Economics & Social Science 51
I DEDICATE THIS BOOK
MY FELLOW-MEMBERS OF
THE FOUNTAIN CLUB
WITH THE EARNEST HOPE THAT NOTHING IT CONTAINS MAY INCITE THEM TO EMULATE ITS HEROES
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
TO FACE PAGE
A PAGE FROM THE LOG-BOOK OF CAPTAIN DAMPIER 98
PRESSING A PIRATE TO PLEAD 140
A PIRATE BEING HANGED AT EXECUTION DOCK, WAPPING 182
ANNE BONNY AND MARY READ, CONVICTED OF PIRACY NOVEMBER 28TH, 1720, IN JAMAICA 256
CAPTAIN BARTHOLOMEW ROBERTS 262
Let it be made clear at the very outset of this Preface that the pages which follow do not pretend to be a history of piracy, but are simply an attempt to gather together, from various sources, particulars of those redoubtable pirates and buccaneers whose names have been handed down to us in a desultory way.
I do not deal here with the children of fancy; I believe that every man, or woman too—since certain of the gentler sex cut no small figure at the game—mentioned in this volume actually existed.
A time has come when every form of learning, however preposterous it may seem, is made as unlaborious as possible for the would-be student. Knowledge, which is after all but a string of facts, is being arranged, sorted, distilled, and set down in compact form, ready for rapid assimilation. There is little fear that the student who may wish in the future to become master of any subject will have to delve into the original sources in his search after facts and dates.
Surely pirates, taking them in their broadest sense, are as much entitled to a biographical dictionary of their own as are clergymen, race-horses, or artists in ferro-concrete, who all, I am assured, have their own "Who's Who"? Have not the medical men their Directory, the lawyers their List, the peers their Peerage? There are books which record the names and the particulars of musicians, schoolmasters, stockbrokers, saints and bookmakers, and I dare say there is an average adjuster's almanac. A peer, a horse, dog, cat, and even a white mouse, if of blood sufficiently blue, has his pedigree recorded somewhere. Above all, there is that astounding and entertaining volume, "Who's Who," found in every club smoking-room, and which grows more bulky year by year, stuffed with information about the careers, the hobbies, and the marriages of all the most distinguished persons in every profession, including very full details about the lives and doings of all our journalists. But on the club table where these books of ready reference stand with "Whitaker," "ABC," and "Ruff's Guide to the Turf," there is just one gap that the compiler of this work has for a long while felt sorely needed filling. There has been until now no work that gives immediate and trustworthy information about the lives, and—so sadly important in their cases—the deaths of our pirates and buccaneers.
In delving in the volumes of the "Dictionary of National Biography," it has been a sad disappointment to the writer to find so little space devoted to the careers of these picturesque if, I must admit, often unseemly persons. There are, of course, to be found a few pirates with household names such as Kidd, Teach, and Avery. A few, too, of the buccaneers, headed by the great Sir Henry Morgan, come in for their share. But I compare with indignation the meagre show of pirates in that monumental work with the rich profusion of divines! Even during the years when piracy was at its height—say from 1680 until 1730—the pirates are utterly swamped by the theologians. Can it be that these two professions flourished most vigorously side by side, and that when one began to languish, the other also began to fade?
Even so there can be no excuse for the past and present neglect of these sea-adventurers. But a change is beginning to show itself. Increasing evidence is to be found that the more intelligent portions of the population of this country, and even more so the enlightened of the great United States of America, are beginning to show a proper interest in the lives of the pirates and buccaneers. That this should be so amongst the Americans is quite natural, when it is remembered what a close intimacy existed between their Puritan forefathers of New England and the pirates, both by blood relation and by trade, since the pirates had no more obliging and ready customers for their spoils of gold dust, stolen slaves, or church ornaments, than the early settlers of New York, Massachusetts, and Carolina.
In beginning to compile such a list as is to be found in this volume, a difficulty is met at once. My original intention was that only pirates and buccaneers should be included. To admit privateers, corsairs, and other sea-rovers would have meant the addition of a vast number of names, and would have made the work unwieldy, and the very object of this volume as a book of ready reference would not have been achieved. But the difficulty has been to define the exact meaning of a pirate and of a buccaneer. In the dictionary a pirate is defined as "a sea-robber, marauder, one who infringes another's copyright"; while a buccaneer is described as "a sea-robber, a pirate, especially of the Spanish-American coasts." This seems explicit, but a pirate was not a pirate from the cradle to the gallows. He usually began his life at sea as an honest mariner in the merchant service. He perhaps mutinied with other of the ship's crew, killed or otherwise disposed of the captain, seized the ship, elected a new commander, and sailed off "on the account." Many an honest seaman was captured with the rest of his ship's crew by a pirate, and either voluntarily joined the freebooters by signing their articles, or, being a good navigator or "sea-artist," was compelled by the pirates to lend them his services. Others, again, were in privateer ships, which carried on a legitimate warfare against the shipping of hostile countries, under a commission or letter of marque.
Often the very commission or letter of marque carried about so jealously by some shady privateer was not worth the paper it was written on, nor the handful of dubloons paid for it. One buccaneer sailed about the South Seas, plundering Spanish ships and sacking churches and burning towns, under a commission issued to him, for a consideration, by the Governor of a Danish West India island, himself an ex-pirate. This precious document, adorned with florid scrolls and a big, impressive seal, was written in Danish. Someone with a knowledge of that language had an opportunity and the curiosity to translate it, when he found that all it entitled the bearer to do was to hunt for goats and pigs on the Island of Hispaniola, and nothing more.
When, at the conclusion of hostilities, peace was declared, the crew of a privateer found it exceedingly irksome to give up the roving life, and were liable to drift into piracy. Often it happened that, after a long naval war, crews were disbanded, ships laid up, and navies reduced, thus flooding the countryside with idle mariners, and filling the roads with begging and starving seamen. These were driven to go to sea if they could find a berth, often half starved and brutally treated, and always underpaid, and so easily yielded to the temptation of joining some vessel bound vaguely for the "South Sea," where no questions were asked and no wages paid, but every hand on board had a share in the adventure.
The buccaneers were a great source of piracy also. When a war was on hand the English Government was only too glad to have the help of these daring and skilful seamen; but when peace was declared these allies began to lead to international complications, and means had to be taken to abolish them, and to try and turn them into honest settlers in the islands. But when a man has for years lived the free life, sailed out from Jamaica a pauper, to return in six weeks or less with, perhaps, a bag of gold worth two, three, or four thousand pounds, which he has prided himself on spending in the taverns and gambling-hells of Port Royal in a week, how can he settle down to humdrum uneventful toil, with its small profits? Thus he goes back "on the account" and sails to some prearranged rendezvous of the "brethren of the coast."
To write a whole history of piracy would be a great undertaking, but a very interesting one. Piracy must have begun in the far, dim ages, and perhaps when some naked savage, paddling himself across a tropical river, met with another adventurer on a better tree-trunk, or carrying a bigger bunch of bananas, the first act of piracy was committed. Indeed, piracy must surely be the third oldest profession in the world, if we give the honour of the second place to the ancient craft of healing. If such a history were to include the whole of piracy, it would have to refer to the Phoenicians, to the Mediterranean sea-rovers of the days of Rome, who, had they but known it, held the future destiny of the world in their grasp when they, a handful of pirates, took prisoner the young Julius Caesar, to ransom him and afterwards to be caught and crucified by him. The Arabs in the Red Sea were for many years past-masters of the art of piracy, as were the Barbary corsairs of Algiers and Tunis, who made the Mediterranean a place of danger for many generations of seamen. All this while the Chinese and Malays were active pirates, while the Pirate coast of the Persian Gulf was feared by all mariners. Then arose the great period, beginning in the reign of Henry VIII., advancing with rapid strides during the adventurous years of Queen Elizabeth, when many West of England squires were wont to sell their estates and invest all in a ship in which to go cruising on the Spanish Main, in the hope of taking a rich Spanish galleon homeward bound from Cartagena and Porto Bello, deep laden with the riches of Peru and Mexico.
Out of these semi-pirate adventurers developed the buccaneers, a ruffianly, dare-devil lot, who feared neither God, man, nor death.
By the middle of the eighteenth century piracy was on the wane, and practically had died out by the beginning of the nineteenth, the final thrust that destroyed it being given by the American and English Navies in the North Atlantic and West Indian Seas. But by this time piracy had degenerated to mere sea-robbing, the days of gallant and ruthless sea-battles had passed, and the pirate of those decadent days was generally a Spanish-American half-breed, with no courage, a mere robber and murderer.
The advent of the telegraph and of steam-driven ships settled for ever the account of the pirates, except in China, when even to this day accounts reach us, through the Press, of piratical enterprises; but never again will the black, rakish-looking craft of the pirate, with the Jolly Roger flying, be liable to pounce down upon the unsuspecting and harmless merchantman.
The books devoted to the lives and exploits of buccaneers and pirates are few. Indeed, but two stand out prominently, both masterpieces of their kind. One, "The Bucaniers of America, or a True Account of the Most Remarkable Assaults Committed of Late Years upon the Coasts of the West Indies," etc., was written by a sea-surgeon to the buccaneers, A.O. Exquemelin, a Dutchman, and was published at Amsterdam in 1679.
Many translations were made, the first one in English being published in 1684 by William Crooke, at the Green Dragon, without Temple Bar, in London. The publication of this book was the cause of a libel action brought by Sir Henry Morgan against the publisher; the buccaneer commander won his case and was granted L200 damages and a public apology. In this book Morgan was held up as a perfect monster for his cruel treatment to his prisoners, but although Morgan resented this very much, the statement that annoyed him much more was that which told the reader that Morgan came of very humble stock and was sold by his parents when a boy, to serve as a labourer in Barbadoes.
The greatest work on pirates was written in 1726 by Captain Charles Johnson. The original edition, now exceedingly rare, is called "A General History of the Pyrates, from Their First Rise and Settlement in the Island of Providence, to the Present Time," and is illustrated by interesting engravings.
Another edition, in 1734, is a handsome folio called "A General History of the Lives and Adventures of the Most Famous Highwaymen," etc., "To which is added a Genuine Account of the Voyages and Plunders of the Most Notorious Pyrates," and contains many full-page copperplates by J. Basire and others. The pirates are given only a share in the pages of this book, but it has some very fine engravings of such famous pirates as Avery, Roberts, Low, Lowther, and "Blackbeard."
The third edition of the "History of Pirates," of 1725, has a quaint frontispiece, showing the two women pirates, Anne Bonny and Mary Read, in action with their swords drawn, upon the deck of a ship. While the fourth edition, published in 1726, in two volumes, contains the stories of the less well-known South-Sea Rovers.
After studying the subject of piracy at all closely, one cannot but be struck by the number of pirates who came from Wales. Welshmen figure not only amongst the rank and file, but amongst the leaders. Morgan, of course, stands head and shoulders above the rest. It is curious how certain races show particular adaptability for certain callings. Up to two hundred years ago the chief pirates were Welshmen; to-day most of our haberdashers hail from the same land of the leek. It would be interesting to try and fathom the reason why these two callings, at first sight so dissimilar, should call forth the qualities in a particular race. Perhaps some of our leading haberdashers and linen drapers will be willing to supply the answer.
I sometimes wonder what happens to the modern pirates; I mean the men who, had they lived 200 years ago, would have been pirates. What do they find to exercise their undoubted, if unsocial, talents and energies to-day? Many, I think, find openings of an adventurous financial kind in the City.
Politics, again, surely has its buccaneers. One can imagine, for example, some leading modern politician—let us say a Welshman—who, like Morgan, being a brilliant public speaker, is able by his eloquence to sway vast crowds of listeners, whether buccaneers or electors, a man of quick and subtle mind, able to recognize and seize upon the main chance, perfectly ruthless in his methods when necessity requires, and one who, having achieved the goal on which he had set his ambition, discards his party or followers, as Morgan did his buccaneers after the sacking of Panama. Nor is Europe to-day without a counterpart to the ruffian crews who arrogantly "defied the world and declared war on all nations."
One great difficulty which the author of this work is met with is to decide who was, and who was not, a pirate.
Certain friends who have taken a kindly, if somewhat frivolous, interest in the compilation of this work have inquired if Sir Francis Drake was to be included; and it must be admitted that the question is not an easy one to answer. The most fervent patriot must admit that the early voyages of Drake were, to put it mildly, of a buccaneering kind, although his late voyages were more nearly akin to privateering cruises than piracy. But if, during the reign of King Philip, a Spaniard had been asked if Drake was a pirate, he would certainly have answered, "Yes," and that without any hesitation whatever. So much depends upon the point of view.
In the 1814 edition of Johnson's "History of Highwaymen and Pirates," the famous Paul Jones holds a prominent place as a pirate, and is described in no half measures as a traitor; yet I doubt if in the schools of America to-day the rising young citizens of "God's Own Country" are told any such thing, but are probably, and quite naturally, taught to look upon Paul Jones as a true patriot and a brave sailor. Again, there is Christopher Columbus, the greatest of all explorers, about whom no breath of scandal in the piratical way was ever breathed, who only escaped being a pirate by the fact that his was the first ship to sail in the Caribbean Sea; for there is little doubt that had the great navigator found an English ship lying at anchor when he first arrived at the Island of San Salvador, an act of piracy would have immediately taken place.
For the student who is interested there are other writers who have dealt with the subject of piracy, such as the buccaneers Ringrose, Cooke, Funnell, Dampier, and Cowley; Woodes Rogers, with his "Voyage to the South Seas"; Wafer, who wrote an amusing little book in 1699 describing his hardships and adventures on the Isthmus of Darien. Of modern writers may be recommended Mr. John Masefield's "Spanish Main," "The Buccaneers in the West Indies," by C.H. Haring, and the latest publication of the Marine Research Society of Massachusetts, entitled "The Pirates of the New England Coast," and last, but far from least, the works of Mr. A. Hyatt Verrill.
The conditions of life on a pirate ship appear to have been much the same in all vessels. On procuring a craft by stealing or by mutiny of the crew, the first thing to do was to elect a commander. This was done by vote amongst the crew, who elected whoever they considered the most daring amongst them, and the best navigator. The next officer chosen was the quartermaster. The captain and quartermaster once elected, the former could appoint any junior officers he chose, and the shares in any plunder they took was divided according to the rank of each pirate. The crew were then searched for a pirate who could write, and, when found, this scholar would be taken down to the great cabin, given pen, ink, and paper, and after the articles had been discussed and decided upon, they were written down, to be signed by each member of the crew. As an example, the articles drawn up by the crew of Captain John Phillips on board the Revenge are given below in full:
Every man shall obey civil Command; the Captain shall have one full Share and a half in all Prizes; the Master, Carpenter, Boatswain and Gunner shall have one Share and quarter.
If any Man shall offer to run away, or keep any Secret from the Company, he shall be marroon'd with one Bottle of Powder, one Bottle of Water, one small Arm, and Shot.
If any Man shall steal any Thing in the Company, or game, to the value of a Piece of Eight, he shall be Marroon'd or shot.
If at any Time we should meet another Marrooner (that is, Pyrate,) that Man that shall sign his Articles without the Consent of our Company, shall suffer such Punishment as the Captain and Company shall think fit.
That Man that shall strike another whilst these Articles are in force, shall receive Moses's Law (that is 40 Stripes lacking one) on the bare Back.
That Man that shall snap his Arms, or smoak Tobacco in the Hold, without a cap to his Pipe, or carry a Candle lighted without a Lanthorn, shall suffer the same Punishment as in the former Article.
That Man that shall not keep his Arms clean, fit for an Engagement, or neglect his Business, shall be cut off from his Share, and suffer such other Punishment as the Captain and the Company shall think fit.
If any Man shall lose a Joint in time of an Engagement, shall have 400 Pieces of Eight; if a limb, 800.
If at any time you meet with a prudent Woman, that Man that offers to meddle with her, without her Consent, shall suffer present Death.
These formalities took time and much argument and the drinking of many bowls of punch, and, when once settled, the next business was to make a flag. The Jolly Roger, consisting of a human skull and two crossed thigh-bones, was generally portrayed in black and white. Some crews preferred a study in red and white. More enterprising captains with imagination and taste, such as Captain Bartholomew Roberts, who was a truly remarkable man and the greatest pirate who ever "declared war upon all the world," aimed at something more elaborate. Roberts flew several flags, all made to his own design.
On one was depicted a "human anatomy," holding a rummer, or glass, of punch in one bony hand, and a flaming sword in the other. Another favourite flag of Roberts had a huge portrait of himself, sword in hand, and two skulls.
Another had a "skellington" standing with either foot firmly placed on a skull, and under one skull were embroidered the letters A.B.H., under the other A.M.H., which letters stood for a Barbadian's head and a Martinican's head, to warn any inhabitant of either of these islands what to expect if he was so unfortunate as to be taken prisoner by Bartholomew, who never forgot nor forgave two occasions on which he was very roughly handled by ships from Barbadoes and Martinique.
The weak point in all pirate ships was the lack of discipline. Time and again some successful enterprise, almost completed, was thrown away by lack of discipline. No captain could be certain of his command or crew. If he did anything they disapproved of, the crew would throw him in chains into the hold, or as likely overboard, and elect another. It is on record that one ship had elected thirteen different commanders in a few months. Some of the big men retained their commands, Roberts holding the record, for a pirate, of four years, until his death; while Bartholomew Sharp holds the record for a buccaneer.
Having procured a vessel, perhaps little more than a fishing-boat, sometimes only an open row-boat, the embryo pirates would paddle along some coast until they came across an unsuspecting craft, one not too big for the desperadoes to attack. Hiding their arms, they would row alongside, and then suddenly, with shouts and curses, board the vessel, kill any who resisted, and start a cruise in their new ship, their number being increased by volunteers or forced men from amongst the prize's crew. Cruising thus, the pirates would gradually get together a small fleet of the fastest and best sailing vessels among their prizes and increase their crew as they went along.
Both the buccaneers and the pirates had their favourite haunts and places of rendezvous. These had to be within easy sailing distance of one or more regular trade routes, and at the same time had to be in some quiet spot unlikely to be visited by strange craft, and, besides being sheltered from storms, must have a suitable beach on which their vessels could be careened and the hulls scraped of barnacles and weeds. The greatest stronghold of the buccaneers was at Tortuga, or Turtle Island, a small island lying off the west coast of Hispaniola. Here in their most piping days flourished a buccaneer republic, where the seamen made their own laws and cultivated the land for sugar-cane and yams. Occasionally the Spaniards or the French, without any warning, would swoop down on the settlement and break up the small republic, but sooner or later the buccaneers would be back once again in possession.
The favourite and most flourishing headquarters of the West India pirates was at New Providence Island in the Bahama Islands, occupied to-day by the flourishing town of Nassau, now the headquarters of those worthy descendants of the pirates, the bootleggers, who from the old port carry on their exciting and profitable smuggling of whisky into the United States.
The numerous bays and islands lying off the coast of South Carolina were very popular with the free booters in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries; while Port Royal, in Jamaica, was noted from early days as the port from which the most famous buccaneers sailed for the Spanish Main, and to which they returned with their plunder.
The French filibusters and pirates mostly used the Virgin Islands, while the Dutch patronized their own islands of Curacao, Saba, and St. Eustatius. But the buccaneers did not allow the chance of nationality to divide them, for Frenchmen, Englishmen, and Dutchmen, all "brethren of the coast," sailed together and plundered the Spaniard in open and equal friendship.
An entirely different group of pirates arose in the South Seas, with their headquarters in Madagascar. Here the pirates went farther towards forming a permanent society than at any other time during their history, with the exception of the Barbary corsairs, who had their strongly fortified settlements for many years at Algiers, Tunis, and Sallee.
The origin of the buccaneers is interesting, and I cannot do better than quote the opening chapter of Clark Russell's "Life of William Dampier," in the English Men of Action Series, published by Messrs. Macmillan in 1889. He writes:
"In or about the middle of the seventeenth century, the Island of San Domingo, or Hispaniola as it was then called, was haunted and overrun by a singular community of savage, surly, fierce, and filthy men. They were chiefly composed of French colonists, whose ranks had from time to time been enlarged by liberal contributions from the slums and alleys of more than one European city and town. These people went dressed in shirts and pantaloons of coarse linen cloth, which they steeped in the blood of the animals they slaughtered. They wore round caps, boots of hogskin drawn over their naked feet, and belts of raw hide, in which they stuck their sabres and knives. They also armed themselves with firelocks, which threw a couple of balls, each weighing two ounces. The places where they dried and salted their meat were called boucans, and from this term they came to be styled bucaniers, or buccaneers, as we spell it. They were hunters by trade, and savages in their habits. They chased and slaughtered horned cattle and trafficked with the flesh, and their favourite food was raw marrow from the bones of the beasts which they shot. They ate and slept on the ground, their table was a stone, their bolster the trunk of a tree, and their roof the hot and sparkling heavens of the Antilles."
The Spaniards, who were jealous of any other nation than their own having a foothold in America, determined to get rid of these wild but hitherto harmless buccaneers. This they accomplished, and in time drove the cattle-hunters out of Hispaniola; and to make sure that the unwelcome visitors should not return, they exterminated all the wild cattle. This was the worst mistake the Spaniards could have made, for these wild men had to look for other means of supporting themselves, and they joined the freebooters and thus began the great period of piracy which was the cause of the ultimate breaking-up of the Spanish power in the West Indies.
Of the life on board buccaneer and pirate ships a somewhat hazy and incomplete picture reaches us. The crews were usually large compared with the number of men carried in other ships, and a state of crowded discomfort must have been the result, especially in some crazy old vessel cruising in the tropics or rounding the Horn in winter. Of the relationship between the sea-rovers and the fair sex it would be best, perhaps, to draw a discreet veil. The pirates and the buccaneers looked upon women simply as the spoils of war, and were as profligate with these as with the rest of their plunder. I do not know if I am disclosing a secret when I mention that my friend Mr. Hyatt Verrill, who is an authority on the subject of the lives of the pirates, is about to publish a book devoted to the love affairs of these gentry. I confess to looking forward with pleasure and a certain degree of trepidation to reading his book and to seeing how he will deal with so delicate a subject.
We know that Sir Henry Morgan was married and provided for his widow in his will.
Captain Kidd, wife, and child, resided in New York, in the utmost conjugal happiness and respectability, but then Kidd was a martyr and no pirate.
Captain Rackam, the dashing "Calico Jack," ran away to sea with the woman pirate, Mrs. Anne Bonny, and they lived together happily on board ship and on land, as did Captain and Mrs. Cobham. The only other pirate I know of who took a "wife" to sea with him was Captain Pease, who flourished in a half-hearted way—half-hearted in the piratical, but not the matrimonial sense—in the middle of the nineteenth century.
A certain settler in New Zealand in the "early days" describes a visit he paid to Captain Pease and his family on board that pirate's handy little schooner, lying at anchor in a quiet cove at that island.
On stepping aboard, the guest was warmly welcomed by a short, red-faced man, bald of head and rotund in figure, of about fifty-five years of age. His appearance suggested a successful grocer rather than a pirate. On the deck were seated two ladies, one nearing middle age, the other young and undoubtedly pretty. At the feet of these ladies sprawled several small children. Captain Pease proceeded to introduce his guest to these as Mrs. Pease No. 1 and Mrs. Pease No. 2. The ladies continued their sewing while a conversation took place on various subjects. Presently, taking out his watch, the pirate turned to the younger lady, observing that it was nearing teatime. Mrs. Pease No. 2, laying down her sewing, went to the cabin, from which the rattle of teacups and the hiss of a boiling kettle were soon heard. Tea being announced as ready, the party entered the cabin, Mrs. Pease senior taking the place at the head of the table and pouring out the tea while the younger Mrs. Pease very prettily handed round the cups and bread and butter, the guest particularly noticing with what respect and thoughtfulness she looked after the wants of the elder Mrs. Pease.
As a pirate Captain Pease was second or even third rate, confining his daring to seizing small unarmed native craft, or robbing the stores of lonely white traders on out-of-the-way atolls. But as a married man he showed himself to be a master; matrimony was his strong suit, domesticity his trump card. He gave one valuable hint to his guest, which was this: "Never take more than two wives with you on a voyage, and choose 'em with care."
One is apt to disassociate serious matrimony, and still less responsible paternity, with the calling of piracy, but with Captain Pease this was far from being the case. Every one of his wives—for he had others on shore—contributed her mite, or two, to the growing family, and the Captain really could not say which of his offspring he was most proud of. It seems at first strange that a man of Captain Pease's appearance, figure, and settled habits, almost humdrum, should have been such an undoubted success with the ladies; but that he was a success there can be no doubt. Perhaps his calling had a good deal to do with this attraction he had for them.
Before bringing this Preface to a conclusion, there is one other aspect of piracy upon which I will touch.
Death, portrayed by a skeleton, was the device on the flag beneath which they fought; and a skeleton was for ever threatening to emerge from its cupboard aboard every pirate vessel.
The end of most of the pirates and a large proportion of the buccaneers was a sudden and violent one, and few of them died in their beds. Many were killed in battle, numbers of them were drowned. Not a few drank themselves to death with strong Jamaica rum, while many of the buccaneers died of malaria and yellow fever contracted in the jungles of Central America, and most of the pirates who survived these perils lived only to be hanged.
It is recorded of a certain ex-prizefighter and pirate, Dennis McCarthy, who was about to be hanged at New Providence Island in 1718, that, as he stood on the gallows, all bedecked with coloured ribbons, as became a boxer, he told his admiring audience that his friends had often, in joke, told him he would die in his shoes; and so, to prove them liars, he kicked off his shoes amongst the crowd, and so died without them.
The trial of a pirate was usually a rough and ready business, and the culprit seldom received the benefit of any doubt that might exist.
If he made any defence at all, it was usually to plead that he had been forced to join the pirates against his wish, and that he had long been waiting for an opportunity to escape.
Once condemned to death, and the date of execution decided, the prisoner, if at Newgate, was handed over to the good offices of the prison Ordinary; or, if in New England, to such vigorous apostles of Christianity as the Rev. Cotton or the Rev. Increase Mather. The former of these two famous theologians was pastor of the North Church in Boston, and the author of a very rare work published in 1695, called "An History of Some Criminals Executed in This Land." Cotton Mather preached many a "hanging" sermon to condemned pirates, a few of which can still be read. One of these, preached in 1704, is called "A Brief Discourse occasioned by a Tragical Spectacle of a Number of Miserables under Sentence of Death for Piracy."
The Reverend Doctor made a speciality of these "hanging" sermons, and was a thorough master of his subject, as is shown by the following passage taken from the above "Brief Discourse":
"The Privateering Stroke so easily degenerates into the Piratical; and the Privateering Trade is usually carried on with an Unchristian Temper, and proves an Inlet unto so much Debauchery and Iniquity."
On the Sunday previous to an execution the condemned pirates were taken to church to listen to a sermon while they were "exhibited" to the crowded and gaping congregation. On the day of the execution a procession was formed, which marched from the gaol to the gallows.
At the head was carried a silver oar, the emblem from very early days of a pirate execution. Arrived at the gibbet, the prisoner, who always dressed himself in his, or someone else's, best clothes, would doff his hat and make a speech.
Sometimes the bolder spirits would speak in a defiant and unrepentant way; but most of them professed a deep repentance for their sins and warned their listeners to guard against the temptation of drink and avarice. After the prisoner's death the bodies of the more notorious pirates were taken down and hanged in chains at some prominent spot where ships passed, in order to be a warning to any mariners who had piratical leanings.
The number of pirates or buccaneers who died in their beds must have been very small, particularly amongst the former; and I have been able to trace but a single example of a tombstone marking the burial-place of a pirate. This is, or was until recently, to be found in the graveyard at Dartmouth, and records the resting-place of the late Captain Thomas Goldsmith, who commanded the Snap Dragon, of Dartmouth, in which vessel he amassed much riches during the reign of Queen Anne, and died, apparently not regretted, in 1714. Engraved upon his headstone are the following lines:
Men that are virtuous serve the Lord; And the Devil's by his friends ador'd; And as they merit get a place Amidst the bless'd or hellish race; Pray then ye learned clergy show Where can this brute, Tom Goldsmith, go? Whose life was one continual evil Striving to cheat God, Man and Devil.
THE PIRATES' WHO'S WHO
AISA. Barbary corsair.
A famous Mediterranean pirate, and one of Dragut's admirals in the sixteenth century.
ALCANTRA, CAPTAIN MANSEL.
A Spaniard. Commanded a pirate brig, the Macrinarian. Committed many outrages. Took the Liverpool packet Topaz, from Calcutta to Boston, in 1829, near St. Helena, murdering the whole crew. In the same year he took the Candace, from Marblehead, and plundered her. The supercargo of the Candace was an amateur actor, and had on board a priest's black gown and broad brimmed hat. These he put on and sat in his cabin pretending to tell his beads. On the pirates coming to rob him, they all crossed themselves and left him, so that he alone of the whole company was not robbed.
A Scotch buccaneer; one of Captain Sharp's crew. Drowned on May 9th, 1681. Captain Sharp, with a party of twenty-four men, had landed on the Island of Chiva, off the coast of Peru, and taken several prisoners, amongst whom was a shipwright and his man, who were actually at work building two great ships for the Spaniards. Sharp, thinking these men would be very useful to him, took them away, with all their tools and a quantity of ironwork, in a dory, to convey them off to his ship. But the dory, being overladen, sank, and Alexander was drowned. On the evening of May 12th his body was found; which they took up, and next day "threw him overboard, giving him three French vollies for his customary ceremony."
Of Algiers. Barbary corsair.
Conquered the Kingdom of Tunis in the sixteenth century, and captured many Maltese galleys. He brought the development of organized piracy to its greatest perfection.
In 1571 Ali Basha commanded a fleet of no fewer than 250 Moslem galleys in the battle of Lepanto, when he was severely defeated, but escaped with his life.
Commanded a vessel of eighteen tons, no guns, and a crew of twenty-four. In March, 1679, sailed in company with eight other vessels, under command of Captain Harris, to the Coast of Darien, and marched on foot across the isthmus, on his way attacking and sacking Santa Maria.
AMAND or ANNAND, ALEXANDER.
One of Major Stede Bonnet's crew in the Royal James. Hanged on November 8th, 1718, at White Point, Charleston, South Carolina, and buried in the marsh below low-water mark.
An admiral of an Arabian fleet of Red Sea pirates. In 1816 he captured four British merchant vessels on their way to Surat.
ANDRESON, CAPTAIN CORNELIUS.
A Dutch pirate. Sailed from Boston in 1674 with Captain Roderigo to plunder English ships along the coast of Maine, in a vessel called the Penobscot Shallop.
Tried at Cambridge, Massachusetts, sentenced to death, but later on pardoned. Afterwards fought very bravely for the English colonists against the Indians.
A Chief or Captain of the Darien Indians, who in 1679 conducted the buccaneers under Coxon and Harris across the isthmus to attack Santa Maria and afterwards to make an attempt on Panama.
Captain Androeas had a great esteem for the English, partly because the buccaneers were kind to the Indians, and partly because of the Indians' fear and hatred of the Spaniards. He afterwards led back a party of malcontents under Captain Coxon from the Pacific side of the isthmus.
ANGORA, Sultan of Timor.
Refusing to allow the East India Company to station garrisons on Timor, he was driven out of the whole of his island except the chief town, also called Angora.
Deciding to take revenge, he turned pirate and went to sea in command of a small fleet of five well-armed prows and several galleys. His first prize was a packet brig carrying despatches from Calcutta to the English General before Angora. Captain Hastings, the commander, a near relation of Warren Hastings, and a gallant officer, had thrown the despatches overboard, for which he was hanged, while the crew were sent to prison at Angora and afterwards poisoned. His next prize was an East Indian ship, the Edward, Captain Harford, the crew of which were also poisoned. Cruising off Bombay he defeated a vessel sent out by the Government to attack him. After taking other English vessels, Angora met with a richly laden ship from Burmah, a country whose sovereign he was on friendly terms with, but the Sultan-pirate took this ship and drowned every soul on board except one woman, who, owing to her great beauty, he kept for himself. His next victim was a well-armed Malay praam, which he captured after a severe fight. The crew he shackled and threw overboard, while he burnt the vessel. Paying another visit to Bombay, he caught the garrison unprepared, blew up the fort, and sailed off with some sheep, cows, and pigs. A few days later the pirate seized an English packet, St. George, and after he had tortured to death the captain, the terrified crew joined his service. Returning to Timor with his plunder, he was surprised by the arrival off the port of H.M.S. Victorious, seventy-four guns, which had been sent to take him. Slipping out of harbour unobserved in the night in his fastest sailing praam, he escaped to Trincomalee in Ceylon, where the East India Company decided to allow him to remain undisturbed.
Brother of a famous pirate, Angora, Sultan of Timor. When the Sultan retired from practice to the Island of Ceylon he gave his brother his praam, a fast vessel armed with thirty-eight guns.
Angria's brother Angora had been dethroned from the Island of Timor by the English Government, and this had prevented the former from all hope of succeeding as Sultan. Owing to this, Angria, a very vindictive man, nursed against the English Government a very real grievance. Declaring himself Sultan of another smaller island, Little Timor, he sailed out to look for spoil. His first victim was the Elphinston, which he took some eighty miles off Bombay. Putting the crew of forty-seven men into an open boat, without water, and with scarcely room to move, he left them. It was in the hottest month of the year, and only twenty-eight of them reached Bombay alive.
Angria, being broad-minded on the subject of his new profession, did not limit himself to taking only English vessels, for meeting with two Chinese junks, laden with spices and riches, he plundered them both, and tying the crew back to back threw them into the sea to drown. One of the Chinamen, while watching his companions being drowned, managed to get a hand free from his ropes, and, taking his dagger, stabbed Angria, but, missing his heart, only wounded him in the shoulder. To punish him the pirate had the skin cut off his back and then had him beaten with canes. Then lashing him firmly down to a raft he was thrown overboard. After drifting about for three days and nights he was picked up, still alive, by a fishing-boat and carried to Bombay, where, fully recovered, he lived the rest of his days.
Angria continued his activities for three years, during which space he was said to have murdered in cold blood over 500 Englishmen. He was eventually chased by Commander Jones in H.M.S. Asia, sixty-four guns, into Timor, and after a close siege of the town for twelve months, Angria was shot by one of the mob while haranguing them from a balcony.
After Commander Jones's death his widow built a tower at Shooter's Hill, by Woolwich Common, to perpetuate the memory of her husband who had rid the Indian Ocean of the tyrant Angria.
The following lines are from the pen of Robert Bloomfield, and allude to this monument:
Yon far-famed monumental tower Records the achievements of the brave, And Angria's subjugated power, Who plunder'd on the Eastern Wave.
ANSTIS, CAPTAIN THOMAS.
The first mention of the name of this notorious pirate occurs in the year 1718, when we hear of him shipping himself at Providence in a sloop called the Buck in company with five other rascals who were conspiring together to seize the vessel and with her go "a-pyrating."
Of these five, one was Howel Davis, who was afterwards killed in an affair at the Island of Princes; another, Denman Topping, who was killed in the taking of a rich Portuguese ship on the coast of Brazil; a third, Walter Kennedy, was eventually hanged at Execution Dock, while the two others, who escaped the usual end of pirates—that is, by hanging, shooting, or drowning in saltwater or rum—disappeared into respectable obscurity in employment of some sort in the City of London.
This party of six conspirators was the nucleus of a very powerful combination of pirates, which eventually came under the command of the famous Captain Roberts.
Anstis's pirate career began as did most others. They cruised about amongst the West India Islands, seizing and plundering all merchant ships they chanced upon, and, if we are to believe some of the stories that were circulated at the time of their treatment of their prisoners, they appear to have been an even rougher lot of scoundrels than was usual.
Before long they seized a very stout ship, the Morning Star, bound from Guinea to Carolina, and fitted her up with thirty-two cannons taken from another prize; manned her with a crew of one hundred men, and put Captain John Fenn in command. Anstis, as the elder officer, could have had command of this newer and larger ship, but he was so in love with his own vessel, the Good Fortune, which was an excellent sailer, that he preferred to remain in her.
The party now had two stout ships, but, as so often happened, trouble began to ferment amongst the crew. A large number of these had been more or less forced to "go a-pyrating," and were anxious to avoid the consequences, so they decided to send a round-robin—that is, a petition—signed by all with their names in a circle so that no rogue could be held to be more prominent than any other, to ask for the King's pardon.
This round-robin was addressed to "his most sacred Majesty George, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith," etc.
This petition was sent to England by a merchant vessel then sailing from Jamaica, while the crews hid their ships amongst the mangrove swamps of a small uninhabited island off the coast of Cuba. Here they waited for nine months for an answer to their petition to the King, living on turtle, fish, rice, and, of course, rum ad lib. as long as it lasted.
To pass the time various diversions were instigated, particularly dancing—a pastime in great favour amongst pirates. We have a most amusing account left us of a mock court of justice held by them to try one another of piracy, and he who was on one day tried as the prisoner would next day take his turn at being Judge.
This shows a grim sense of humour, as most of those who took part in these mock trials were certain to end their careers before a real trial unless they came to a sudden and violent end beforehand.
Here is an account of one such mock-trial as given to Captain Johnson, the historian of the pirates, by an eyewitness:
"The Court and Criminals being both appointed, as also Council to plead, the Judge got up in a Tree, and had a dirty Taurpaulin hung over his shoulder; this was done by Way of Robe, with a Thrum Cap on his Head, and a large Pair of Spectacles upon his Nose. Thus equipp'd, he settled himself in his Place; and abundance of Officers attending him below, with Crows, Handspikes, etc., instead of Wands, Tipstaves, and such like.... The Criminals were brought out, making a thousand sour Faces; and one who acted as Attorney-General opened the Charge against them; their Speeches were very laconick, and their whole Proceedings concise. We shall give it by Way of Dialogue.
"Attor. Gen.: 'An't please your Lordship, and you Gentlemen of the Jury, here is a Fellow before you that is a sad Dog, a sad sad Dog; and I humbly hope your Lordship will order him to be hang'd out of the Way immediately.... He has committed Pyracy upon the High Seas, and we shall prove, an't please your Lordship, that this Fellow, this sad Dog before you, has escaped a thousand Storms, nay, has got safe ashore when the Ship has been cast away, which was a certain Sign he was not born to be drown'd; yet not having the Fear of hanging before his Eyes, he went on robbing and ravishing Man, Woman and Child, plundering Ships Cargoes fore and aft, burning and sinking Ship, Bark and Boat, as if the Devil had been in him. But this is not all, my Lord, he has committed worse Villanies than all these, for we shall prove, that he has been guilty of drinking Small-Beer; and your Lordship knows, there never was a sober Fellow but what was a Rogue. My Lord, I should have spoke much finer than I do now, but that as your Lordship knows our Rum is all out, and how should a Man speak good Law that has not drank a Dram.... However, I hope, your Lordship will order the Fellow to be hang'd.'
"Judge: '... Hearkee me, Sirrah ... you lousy, pittiful, ill-look'd Dog; what have you to say why you should not be tuck'd up immediately, and set a Sun-drying like a Scare-crow?... Are you guilty, or not guilty?'
"Pris.: 'Not guilty, an't please your Worship.'
"Judge: 'Not guilty! say so again, Sirrah, and I'll have you hang'd without any Tryal.'
"Pris.: 'An't please your Worship's Honour, my Lord, I am as honest a poor Fellow as ever went between Stem and Stern of a Ship, and can hand, reef, steer, and clap two Ends of a Rope together, as well as e'er a He that ever cross'd salt Water; but I was taken by one George Bradley' (the Name of him that sat as Judge,) 'a notorious Pyrate, a sad Rogue as ever was unhang'd, and he forc'd me, an't please your Honour.'
"Judge: 'Answer me, Sirrah.... How will you be try'd?'
"Pris.: 'By G—— and my Country.'
"Judge: 'The Devil you will.... Why then, Gentlemen of the Jury, I think we have nothing to do but to proceed to Judgement.'
"Attor. Gen.: 'Right, my Lord; for if the Fellow should be suffered to speak, he may clear himself, and that's an Affront to the Court.'
"Pris.: 'Pray, my Lord, I hope your Lordship will consider ...'
"Judge: 'Consider!... How dare you talk of considering?... Sirrah, Sirrah, I never consider'd in all my Life.... I'll make it Treason to consider.'
"Pris.: 'But, I hope, your Lordship will hear some reason.'
"Judge: 'D'ye hear how the Scoundrel prates?... What have we to do with the Reason?... I'd have you to know, Raskal, we don't sit here to hear Reason ... we go according to Law.... Is our Dinner ready?'
"Attor. Gen.: 'Yes, my Lord.'
"Judge: 'Then heark'ee you Raskal at the Bar; hear me, Sirrah, hear me.... You must suffer, for three reasons; first, because it is not fit I should sit here as Judge, and no Body be hanged.... Secondly, you must be hanged, because you have a damn'd hanging Look.... And thirdly, you must be hanged, because I am hungry; for, know, Sirrah, that 'tis a Custom, that whenever the Judge's Dinner is ready before the Tryal is over, the Prisoner is to be hanged of Course.... There's Law for you, ye Dog.... So take him away Gaoler.'"
In August, 1722, the pirates sailed out from their hiding-place and waylaid the ship which was returning to Jamaica with the answer to the petition, but to their disappointment heard that no notice had been taken of their round-robin by the Government at home.
No time was lost in returning to their old ways, for the very next day both pirate ships left their hiding-place and sailed out on the "grand account."
But now their luck deserted them, for the Morning Star was run aground on a reef by gross neglect on the part of the officers and wrecked. Most of the crew escaped on to an island, where Captain Anstis found them next day, and no sooner had he taken aboard Captain Fenn, Phillips, the carpenter, and a few others, than all of a sudden down upon them came two men-of-war, the Hector and the Adventure, so that Anstis had barely time to cut his cables and get away to sea, hotly pursued by the Adventure. The latter, in a stiff breeze, was slowly gaining on the brigantine when all of a sudden the wind dropped, the pirates got out the sweeps, and thus managed, for the time being, to escape. In the meantime the Hector took prisoner the forty pirates remaining on the island.
Anstis soon got to work again, and captured several prizes. He then sailed to the Island of Tobago to clean and refit his ship. Just when all the guns and stores had been landed and the ship heeled, as ill-luck would have it, the Winchester, man-of-war, put into the bay; and the pirates had barely time to set their ship on fire and to escape into the woods. Anstis had by now lost all authority over his discontented crew, and one night was shot while asleep in his hammock.
Captain of the Darien Indians and friend to the English buccaneers.
ARCHER, JOHN ROSE.
He learnt his art as a pirate in the excellent school of the notorious Blackbeard.
In 1723 he was, for the time being, in honest employment in a Newfoundland fishing-boat, which was captured by Phillips and his crew. As Phillips was only a beginner at piracy, he was very glad to get the aid of such an old hand at the game as John Archer, whom he promptly appointed to the office of quartermaster in the pirate ship. This quick promotion caused some murmuring amongst Phillips's original crew, the carpenter, Fern, being particularly outspoken against it.
Archer ended his days on the gallows at Boston on June 2nd, 1724, and we read that he "dy'd very penitent, with the assistance of two grave Divines to attend him."
Licensed and titled buccaneer.
Believed to have buried a rich treasure in the Isles of Shoals, off Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in the seventeenth century.
Born in London. A deserter from the Royal Navy. One of Captain Roberts's crew taken by H.M.S. Swallow, from which ship he had previously deserted.
In an account of his execution on board H.M.S. Weymouth we read: "Being on board a Man of War there was no Body to press him to an Acknowledgement of the Crime he died for, nor of sorrowing in particular for it, which would have been exemplary, and made suitable Impressions on seamen; so that his last Hour was spent in lamenting and bewailing his Sins in general, exhorting the Spectators to an honest and good life, in which alone they could find Satisfaction."
This painful scene ended by the condemned singing with the spectators a few verses of the 140th Psalm: at the conclusion of which, at the firing of a gun, "he was tric'd up at the Fore Yard."
Died at the age of 34.
A Madagascar pirate, who was brought to New England by Captain Shelley in 1699.
Born in the Minories, London. He served with Captain Howell Davis, and later with Bartholomew Roberts. He was one of the leading lights of Roberts's crew, a member of the "House of Lords."
He took part in the capture and plundering of the King Solomon at Cape Apollonia, North-West Coast of Africa, in January, 1719, when the pirates, in an open boat, attacked the ship while at anchor. Ashplant was taken prisoner two years later by H.M.S. Swallow. Tried for piracy at Cape Coast Castle and found guilty in March, 1722, and hanged in chains there at the age of 32.
A hand aboard the brig Vineyard in 1830, he took part with Charles Gibbs and others in a mutiny in which both the captain and mate was murdered.
AUGUR, CAPTAIN JOHN.
A pirate of New Providence, Bahama Islands. He accepted the royal pardon in 1718, and impressed the Governor, Woodes Rogers, so favourably that he was placed in command of a sloop to go and trade amongst the islands. A few days out Augur met with two sloops, "the sight of which dispelled all memory of their late good intention," and turning pirates once more, they seized the two sloops and took out of them money and goods to the value of L500.
The pirates now sailed for Hispaniola, but with bad luck, or owing to retribution, a sudden hurricane arose which drove them back to the one spot in the West Indies they must have been most anxious to avoid—that is, the Bahama Islands. Here the sloop became a total wreck, but the crew got ashore and for a while lay hidden in a wood. Rogers, hearing where they were, sent an armed sloop to the island, and the captain by fair promises induced the eleven marooned pirates to come aboard. Taking these back to Providence, Rogers had them all tried before a court of lately converted pirates, and they were condemned to be hanged. While standing on the gallows platform the wretched culprits reproached the crowd of spectators, so lately their fellow-brethren in piracy, for allowing their old comrades to be hanged, and urging them to come to the rescue. But virtue was still strong in these recent converts, and all the comfort the criminals got was to be told "it was their Business to turn their Minds to another World, and sincerely to repent of what Wickedness they had done in this." "Yes," answered the now irritated and in no-wise abashed Augur, "I do heartily repent: I repent I have not done more Mischief, and that we did not cut the Throats of them that took us, and I am extremely sorry that you an't all hang'd as well as we."
Captured with the rest of Captain John Quelch's crew in the brigantine Charles. Escaped for a time, but was caught and secured in the gaol at Piscataqua, and later on tried for piracy at the Star Tavern at Boston in June, 1704.
AVERY, CAPTAIN JOHN, alias HENRY EVERY, alias CAPTAIN BRIDGEMAN. Nicknamed "Long Ben," or the "Arch-Pirate."
In the year 1695, when at the height of his career, Avery caught the public's fancy as no other pirate ever did, with the possible exception of Captain Kidd. So much so that his achievements, or supposed achievements, formed the plot of several popular novels and plays.
Charles Johnson wrote a play called "The Successful Pyrate," which work ran into several editions, and was acted at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane.
The scene in this play was laid in the Island of Madagascar, and the hero was modelled on Captain Avery.
This pirate was a Devonshire man, being born near Plymouth about the year 1665, and was bred to the sea. He sailed on several voyages as mate aboard a merchantman. He was later appointed first officer in an armed privateer The Duke, Commander Captain Gibson, which sailed from Bristol for Spain, being hired by the Spaniards for service in the West Indies against the French pirates.
Avery soon plotted a mutiny, which was carried out while The Duke lay at anchor in Cadiz Harbour; the ship was seized, and the captain put ashore. Avery was elected captain, and he renamed the ship the Charles the Second. For more than a year Avery sailed in this vessel, preying without distinction upon persons of all nations and religions.
After leaving Spain he first sailed to the Isle of May, holding the Portuguese governor for ransom till provisions were sent on board. He took near here three English ships, then sailed to the coast of Guinea to procure slaves. To catch these Avery would anchor off a village and hoist English colours. The trusting negroes would then paddle off to the ship in canoes, bringing gold to traffic with. At a given signal these natives would be seized, clapped in irons, and thrown into the hold.
Avery next sailed to the Island of Princes, where he attacked two Danish ships, and took them both. The next place the pirates touched at was Madagascar, from there they sailed to the Red Sea to await the fleet expected from Mocha. To pass the time and to earn an honest penny the pirates called in at a town called Meat, there to sell to the natives some of their stolen merchandise. But the cautious inhabitants refused to do any business with these suspicious looking merchants, so in order to punish them the pirates burnt down their town. They next visited Aden, where they met two other English pirate ships, and were soon joined by three others from America, all on the same enterprise.
Expecting the Mocha fleet to come along, they waited here, but the fleet slipped past the pirates in the night. Avery was after them the next morning, and catching them up, singled out the largest ship, fought her for two hours, and took her. She proved to be the Gunsway, belonging to the Great Mogul himself, and a very valuable prize, as out of her they took 100,000 pieces of eight and a like number of chequins, as well as several of the highest persons of the court who were passengers on a pilgrimage to Mecca. It was rumoured that a daughter of the Great Mogul was also on board. Accounts of this exploit eventually reached England, and created great excitement, so that it soon became the talk of the town that Captain Avery had taken the beautiful young princess to Madagascar, where he had married her and was living in royal state, the proud father of several small princes and princesses.
The Mogul was naturally infuriated at this outrage on his ship, and threatened in retaliation to lay waste all the East India Company's settlements.
Having got a vast booty, Avery and his friends sailed towards Madagascar, and on the way there Avery, as admiral of the little fleet, signalled to the captain of the other sloops to come aboard his vessel. When they arrived Avery put before them the following ingenious scheme. He proposed that the treasures in the two sloops should, for safety, be put into his keeping till they all three arrived in Madagascar. This, being agreed to, was done, but during the night, after Avery had explained matters to his own men, he altered his course and left the sloops, and never saw them again. He now sailed away with all the plunder to the West Indies, arriving safely at New Providence Island in the Bahamas, where he offered the Governor a bribe of twenty pieces of eight and two pieces of gold to get him a pardon. Avery arrived in 1696 at Boston, where he appears to have successfully bribed the Quaker Governor to let him and some of his crew land with their spoils unmolested. But the pirate did not feel quite safe, and also thought it would be wellnigh impossible to sell his diamonds in the colony without being closely questioned as to how he came by them. So, leaving America, he sailed to the North of Ireland, where he sold the sloop. Here the crew finally dispersed, and Avery stopped some time in Dublin, but was still unable to dispose of his stolen diamonds. Thinking England would be a better place for this transaction, he went there, and settled at Bideford in Devon. Here he lived very quietly under a false name, and through a friend communicated with certain merchants in Bristol. These came to see him, accepted his diamonds and some gold cups, giving him a few pounds for his immediate wants, and took the valuables to Bristol to sell, promising to send him the money procured for them. Time dragged on, but nothing came from the Bristol merchants, and at last it began to dawn on Avery that there were pirates on land as well as at sea. His frequent letters to the merchants brought at the most but a few occasional shillings, which were immediately swallowed up by the payment of his debts for the bare necessities of life at Bideford. At length, when matters were becoming desperate, Avery was taken ill and died "not being worth as much as would buy him a coffin." Thus ended Avery, "the Grand Pirate," whose name was known all over Europe, and who was supposed to be reigning as a king in Madagascar when all the while he was hiding and starving in a cottage at Bideford.
This buccaneer was killed by an explosion of gunpowder on board the Oxford during a banquet of Morgan's captains off Hispaniola in 1669.
BAILY, JOB, or BAYLEY.
One of Major Stede Bonnet's crew. Hanged at Charleston in 1718.
One of Gasparilla's gang up to 1822, when they were broken up by the United States Navy. His favourite hunting-ground was the Gulf of Mexico.
One of Captain Bartholomew's crew in the Royal Fortune. Captured by H.M.S. Swallow off the West Coast of Africa. He had been terribly burnt by an explosion of a barrel of gunpowder, and while seated "in a private corner, with a look as sullen as winter," a surgeon of the king's ship came up and asked him how he came to be blown up in that frightful manner. "Why," says he, "John Morris fired a pistol into the powder, and if he had not done it, I would." The surgeon, with great kindness, offered to dress the prisoner's wounds, but Ball, although in terrible pain, refused to allow them to be touched. He died the same night.
BALLET, JOHN. Buccaneer.
Third mate on board Woodes Rogers's ship, the Duke, but was by profession a surgeon, in which latter capacity he had sailed on a previous voyage with Dampier.
A terror to all shipping in the Gulf of Mexico in the early part of the nineteenth century. Brought to Boston as a prisoner in 1823, taken thence to Kingston, Jamaica, and there hanged. For some extraordinary reason the American juries seldom would condemn a pirate to death, so that whenever possible the pirate prisoners were handed over to the English, who made short shift with them.
Ran away from Port Royal, Jamaica, in June, 1684, on a "privateering" venture in a ship of thirty guns. Caught and brought back by the frigate Ruby, and put on trial by the Lieutenant-Governor Molesworth, who was at that time very active in his efforts to stamp out piracy in the West Indies.
Bannister entirely escaped punishment, capital or otherwise, as he was released by the grand jury on a technical point, surely most rare good fortune for the captain in days when the law was elastic enough to fit most crimes, and was far from lenient on piracy. Six months later the indefatigable captain again eluded the forts, and for two years succeeded in dodging the frigates sent out by Governor Molesworth to capture him. Finally, in January, 1687, Captain Spragge sailed victoriously into Port Royal with Bannister and three other buccaneers hanging at the yard-arm, "a spectacle of great satisfaction to all good people, and of terror to the favourers of pirates."
BARBAROSSA, or "REDBEARD" (his real name was URUJ). Barbary Corsair.
Son of a Turkish renegade and a Christian mother. Born in the Island of Lesbon in the AEgean Sea, a stronghold of the Mediterranean pirates.
In 1504 Barbarossa made his headquarters at Tunis, in return for which he paid the Sultan one-fifth of all the booty he took. One of his first and boldest exploits was the capture of two richly laden galleys belonging to Pope Julius II., on their way from Genoa to Civita Vecchia. Next year he captured a Spanish ship with 500 soldiers on board. In 1512 he was invited by the Moors to assist them in an attempt to retake the town and port of Bujeya from the Spaniards. After eight days of fighting, Barbarossa lost an arm, and the siege was given up, but he took away with him a large Genoese ship. In 1516 Barbarossa changed his headquarters to Jijil, and took command of an army of 6,000 men and sixteen galliots, with which he attacked and captured the Spanish fortress of Algiers, of which he became Sultan. Barbarossa was by now vastly rich and powerful, his fleets bringing in prizes from Genoa, Naples, Venice, and Spain.
Eventually Charles V. of Spain sent an army of 10,000 troops to North Africa, defeated the corsairs, and Barbarossa was slain in battle.
BARBE, CAPTAIN NICHOLAS.
Master of a Breton ship, the Mychell, of St. Malo, owned by Hayman Gillard. Captured by an English ship in 1532. Her crew was made up of nine Bretons and five Scots.
BARNARD, CAPTAIN. Buccaneer.
In June, 1663, this buccaneer sailed from Port Royal to the Orinoco. He took and plundered the town of Santo Tomas, and returned the following March.
In 1677 several English privateers surprised and sacked the town of Santa Marta in the Spanish Main. To save the town from being burnt, the Governor and Bishop became hostages until a ransom had been paid. These the pirates, under the command of Captains Barnes and Coxon, carried back to Jamaica and delivered up to Lord Vaughan, the Governor of the island. Vaughan treated the Bishop well, and hired a vessel specially to send him back to Castagona, for which kindness "the good old man was exceedingly pleased."
Tried for piracy at Newport in 1723, but found to be not guilty.
Taken by Captain Roberts out of the Martha snow (Captain Lady). Turned pirate and served in the Ranger in 1721.
BELLAMY, CAPTAIN CHARLES. Pirate, Socialist, and orator. A famous West Indian filibuster.
He began life as a wrecker in the West Indies, but this business being uncertain in its profits, and Bellamy being an ambitious young man, he decided with his partner, Paul Williams, to aim at higher things, and to enter the profession of piracy. Bellamy had now chosen a calling that lent itself to his undoubted talents, and his future career, while it lasted, was a brilliant one.
Procuring a ship, he sailed up and down the coast of Carolina and New England, taking and plundering numerous vessels; and when this neighbourhood became too hot for him he would cruise for a while in the cooler climate of Newfoundland.
Bellamy had considerable gifts for public speaking, and seldom missed an opportunity of addressing the assembled officers and crews of the ships he took, before liberating or otherwise disposing of them.
His views were distinctly Socialistic. On one occasion, in an address to a Captain Beer, who had pleaded to have his sloop returned to him, Captain Bellamy, after clearing his throat, began as follows: "I am sorry," he said, "that you can't have your sloop again, for I scorn to do anyone any mischief—when it is not to my advantage—though you are a sneaking puppy, and so are all those who will submit to be governed by laws which rich men have made for their own security, for the cowardly whelps have not the courage otherwise to defend what they get by their knavery. But damn ye altogether for a pack of crafty rascals, and you, who serve them, for a parcel of hen-hearted numbskulls! They vilify us, the scoundrels do, when there is the only difference that they rob the poor under cover of the law, forsooth, and we plunder the rich under the protection of our own courage. Had you not better make one of us than sneak after these villains for employment?"
Bellamy's fall came at last at the hands of a whaler captain. At the time he was in command of the Whidaw and a small fleet of other pirate craft, which was lying at anchor in the Bay of Placentia in Newfoundland. Sailing from Placentia for Nantucket Shoals, he seized a whaling vessel, the Mary Anne. As the skipper of the whaler knew the coast well, Bellamy made him pilot of his small fleet. The cunning skipper one night ran his ship on to a sand-bank near Eastman, Massachusetts, and the rest of the fleet followed his stern light on to the rocks. Almost all the crews perished, only seven of the pirates being saved. These were seized and brought to trial, condemned, and hanged at Boston in 1726. The days spent between the sentence and the hanging were not wasted, for we read in a contemporary account that "by the indefatigable pains of a pious and learned divine, who constantly attended them, they were at length, by the special grace of God, made sensible of and truly penitent for the enormous crimes they had been guilty of."
Bo'son to Captain Gow, the pirate. He had the reputation of being a good sailor but a bloodthirsty fellow. Was hanged at Wapping in June, 1725.
In 1539 this Baltic pirate was cruising off Antwerp, waiting to waylay English merchant vessels.
BENDALL, GEORGE, or BENDEALL.
A flourishing pirate, whose headquarters, in the early eighteenth century, were in New Providence Island.
In the year 1717, King George offered a free pardon to all freebooters who would come in and give themselves up. But the call of the brotherhood was too strong for a few of the "old hands," and Bendall, amongst others, was off once again to carry on piracy around the Bahama and Virgin Islands. Within a few years these last "die-hards" were all killed, drowned, caught, or hanged.
An English soldier, who deserted from Fort Loyal, Falmouth, Marne, in 1689, and joined the pirate Pounds. Was sent to prison at Boston, where he died.
Belonged to the Island of St. Thomas.
One of Captain Roberts's crew. Hanged at the age of 27.
An Irishman. Chief mate to the pirate Captain Cobham.
In 1613, Bishop and a few other English seamen set up as pirates at Marmora on the Barbary Coast.
One of Avery's crew. Hanged at Execution Dock in 1691.
Born in Rhode Island.
One of Captain Charles Harris's crew. Hanged at Newport on July 19th, 1723. Age 28.
A Boston boy, taken prisoner with Captain Pounds's crew at Tarpaulin Cove.
One of Captain Teach's crew. Hanged in 1718 at Virginia.
BLEWFIELD, CAPTAIN, or BLAUVELT.
In 1649 this Dutch pirate brought a prize into Newport, Rhode Island. In 1663 was known to be living among the friendly Indians at Cape Gratia de Dios on the Spanish Main. He commanded a barque carrying three guns and a crew of fifty men. He was very active in the logwood cutting in Honduras. Whether the town and river of Bluefield take their name from this pirate is uncertain, but the captain must many a time have gone up the river into the forests of Nicaragua on his logwood cutting raids.
BLOT, CAPTAIN. French filibuster.
In 1684 was in command of La Quagone, ninety men, eight guns.
This Portuguese pirate was first officer to Captain Jonnia. He was a stout, well-built man of swarthy complexion and keen, ferocious eyes, huge black whiskers and beard, and a tremendously loud voice. He took the Boston schooner Exertion at Twelve League Key on December 17th, 1821.
In 1682 arrived at the Cape Verde Islands. Having procured leave to land on Mayo Island, on the pretence of being an honest merchant in need of provisions, particularly of beef and goats, Bond and his crew seized and carried away some of the principal inhabitants. A year later John Cooke and Cowley arrived at Mayo in the Revenge, but were prevented by the inhabitants from landing owing to their recent treatment at the hands of Bond.
BONNET, MAJOR STEDE, alias CAPTAIN THOMAS, alias EDWARDS.
The history of this pirate is both interesting and unique. He was not brought up to the seafaring life; in fact, before he took to piracy, he had already retired from the Army, with the rank of Major. He owned substantial landed property in Barbadoes, lived in a fine house, was married, and much respected by the quality and gentry of that island. His turning pirate naturally greatly scandalized his neighbours, and they found it difficult at first to imagine whatever had caused this sudden and extraordinary resolution, particularly in a man of his position in Society. But when the cause at last came to be known, he was more pitied than blamed, for it was understood that the Major's mind had become unbalanced owing to the unbridled nagging of Mrs. Bonnet. Referring to this, the historian Captain Johnson writes as follows: "He was afterwards rather pitty'd than condemned, by those that were acquainted with him, believing that this Humour of going a-pyrating proceeded from a Disorder in his Mind, which had been but too visible in him, some Time before this wicked Undertaking; and which is said to have been occasioned by some Discomforts he found in a married State; be that as it will, the Major was but ill qualified for the Business, as not understanding maritime Affairs." Whatever the cause of the Major's "disorder of mind," the fact remains that at his own expense he fitted out a sloop armed with ten guns and a crew of seventy men. The fact that he honestly paid in cash for this ship is highly suspicious of a deranged mind, since no other pirate, to the writer's knowledge, ever showed such a nicety of feeling, but always stole the ship in which to embark "on the account." The Major, to satisfy the curious, gave out that he intended to trade between the islands, but one night, without a word of farewell to Mrs. Bonnet, he sailed out of harbour in the Revenge, as he called his ship, and began to cruise off the coast of Virginia. For a rank amateur, Bonnet met with wonderful success, as is shown by a list of the prizes he took and plundered in this first period of his piracy:
The Anne, of Glasgow (Captain Montgomery).
The Turbet, of Barbadoes, which, after plundering, he burnt, as he did all prizes from Barbadoes.
The Endeavour (Captain Scott).
The Young, of Leith.
The plunder out of these ships he sold at Gardiner Island, near New York.
Cruising next off the coast of Carolina, Bonnet took a brace of prizes, but began to have trouble with his unruly crew, who, seeing that their captain knew nothing whatever of sea affairs, took advantage of the fact and commenced to get out of hand. Unluckily for Bonnet, he at this time met with the famous Captain Teach, or Blackbeard, and the latter, quickly appreciating how matters stood, ordered the Major to come aboard his own ship, while he put his lieutenant, Richards, to command Bonnet's vessel. The poor Major was most depressed by this undignified change in his affairs, until Blackbeard lost his ship in Topsail Inlet, and finding himself at a disadvantage, promptly surrendered to the King's proclamation and allowed Bonnet to reassume command of his own sloop. But Major Bonnet had been suffering from qualms of conscience latterly, so he sailed to Bath Town in North Carolina, where he, too, surrendered to the Governor and received his certificate of pardon. Almost at once news came of war being declared between England and France with Spain, so Bonnet hurried back to Topsail, and was granted permission to take back his sloop and sail her to St. Thomas's Island, to receive a commission as a privateer from the French Governor of that island. But in the meanwhile Teach had robbed everything of any value out of Bonnet's ship, and had marooned seventeen of the crew on a sandy island, but these were rescued by the Major before they died of starvation. Just as the ship was ready to sail, a bumboat came alongside to sell apples and cider to the sloop's crew, and from these they got an interesting piece of news. They learnt that Teach, with a crew of eighteen men, was at that moment lying at anchor in Ocricock Inlet. The Major, longing to revenge the insult he had suffered from Blackbeard, and his crew remembering how he had left them to die on a desert island, went off in search of Teach, but failed to find him. Stede Bonnet having received his pardon in his own name, now called himself Captain Thomas and again took to piracy, and evidently had benefited by his apprenticeship with Blackbeard, for he was now most successful, taking many prizes off the coast of Virginia, and later in Delaware Bay.
Bonnet now sailed in a larger ship, the Royal James, so named from feelings of loyalty to the Crown. But she proved to be very leaky, and the pirates had to take her to the mouth of Cape Fear River for repairs. News of this being carried to the Council of South Carolina, arrangements were made to attempt to capture the pirate, and a Colonel William Rhet, at his own expense, fitted out two armed sloops, the Henry (eight guns and seventy men) and the Sea Nymph (eight guns and sixty men), both sailing under the direct command of the gallant Colonel. On September 25th, 1718, the sloops arrived at Cape Fear River, and there sure enough was the Royal James, with three sloops lying at anchor behind the bar. The pirate tried to escape by sailing out, but was followed by the Colonel's two vessels until all three ran aground within gunshot of each other. A brisk fight took place for five hours, when the Major struck his colours and surrendered. There was great public rejoicing in Charleston when, on October 3rd, Colonel Rhet sailed victoriously into the harbour with his prisoners. But next day Bonnet managed to escape out of prison and sailed to Swillivant's Island. The indefatigable Colonel Rhet again set out after the Major, and again caught him and brought him back to Charleston.
The trial of Stede Bonnet and his crew began on October 28th, 1718, at Charleston, and continued till November 12th, the Judge being Nicholas Trot. Bonnet was found guilty and condemned to be hanged. Judge Trot made a speech of overwhelming length to the condemned, full of Biblical quotations, to each of which the learned magistrate gave chapter and verse. In November, 1718, the gallant, if unfortunate, Major was hanged at White Point, Charleston.
Apart from the unusual cause for his turning pirate, Bonnet is interesting as being almost the only case known, otherwise than in books of romance, of a pirate making his prisoners walk the plank.
BONNY, ANNE. Female pirate.
Anne was born in County Cork, and her father was an Attorney-at-Law, who practised his profession in that city, her mother being lady's maid to the attorney's lawful wife.
The story of the events which led to the existence of Anne may be read in Johnson's "History of the Pyrates," where it is recounted in a style quite suggestive of Fielding. In spite of its sad deficiency in moral tone, the narrative is highly diverting. But as this work is strictly confined to the history of the pirates and not to the amorous intrigues of their forbears, we will skip these pre-natal episodes and come to the time when the attorney, having lost a once flourishing legal practice, sailed from Ireland to Carolina to seek a fortune there, taking his little daughter Anne with him. In new surroundings fortune favoured the attorney, and he soon owned a rich plantation, and his daughter kept house for him.
Anne was now grown up and a fine young woman, but had a "fierce and courageous temper," which more than once led her into scrapes, as, on one occasion, when in a sad fit of temper, she slew her English servant-maid with a case-knife. But except for these occasional outbursts of passion she was a good and dutiful girl. Her father now began to think of finding a suitable young man to be a husband for Anne, which would not be hard to do, since Anne, besides her good looks, was his heir and would be well provided for by him. But Anne fell in love with a good-looking young sailor who arrived one day at Charleston, and, knowing her father would never consent to such a match, the lovers were secretly married, in the expectation that, the deed being done, the father would soon become reconciled to it. But on the contrary, the attorney, on being told the news, turned his daughter out of doors and would have nothing more to do with either of them. The bridegroom, finding his heiress worth not a groat, did what other sailors have done before and since, and slipped away to sea without so much as saying good-bye to his bride. But a more gallant lover soon hove in sight, the handsome, rich, dare-devil pirate, Captain John Rackam, known up and down the coast as "Calico Jack." Jack's methods of courting and taking a ship were similar—no time wasted, straight up alongside, every gun brought to play, and the prize seized. Anne was soon swept off her feet by her picturesque and impetuous lover, and consented to go to sea with him in his ship, but disguised herself in sailor's clothes before going on board. The lovers sailed together on a piratical honeymoon until certain news being conveyed to Captain Rackam by his bride, he sailed to Cuba and put Anne ashore at a small cove, where he had a house and also friends, who he knew would take good care of her. But before long Anne was back in the pirate ship, as active as any of her male shipmates with cutlass and marlinspike, always one of the leaders in boarding a prize.
However, the day of retribution was at hand. While cruising near Jamaica in October, 1720, the pirates were surprised by the sudden arrival of an armed sloop, which had been sent out by the Governor of that island for the express purpose of capturing Rackam and his crew. A fight followed, in which the pirates behaved in a most cowardly way, and were soon driven below decks, all but Anne Bonny and another woman pirate, Mary Read, who fought gallantly till taken prisoners, all the while flaunting their male companions on their cowardly conduct. The prisoners were carried to Jamaica and tried for piracy at St. Jago de la Vega, and convicted on November 28th, 1720. Anne pleaded to have her execution postponed for reasons of her condition of health, and this was allowed, and she never appears to have been hanged, though what her ultimate fate was is unknown. On the day that her lover Rackam was hanged he obtained, by special favour, permission to see Anne, but must have derived little comfort from the farewell interview, for all he got in the way of sympathy from his lady love were these words—that "she was sorry to see him there, but if he had fought like a Man, he need not have been hang'd like a Dog."
Member of the Council of Carolina under Governor Colleton, and expelled from it "for holding correspondence with pirates," 1687.
Of Charleston, Carolina.
One of Major Bonnet's crew. Hanged at Charleston, South Carolina, in 1718.
BOURNANO, CAPTAIN, or DE BERNANOS.
In 1679 this famous French filibuster commanded a ship of ninety tons, armed with six guns, and manned by a crew of eighty-six French sailors. Joined Captain Bartholomew Sharp when he was preparing his expedition to assault the town of Santa Maria. Bournano was a useful ally, as he was much liked by the Darien Indians, but his crew quarrelled with the English buccaneers, and they left Sharp's company. In the year 1684, Bournano, known by then as Le Sieur de Bernanos, commanded a ship, La Schite, carrying a crew of sixty men and armed with eight guns.
LA BOUSE, CAPTAIN OLIVER, or DE LA BOUCHE.
When Captain Howel Davis had taken and sacked the fort at Gambia and with his crew was spending a day in revelry, a ship was reported, bearing down on them in full sail. The pirates prepared to fight her, when she ran up the Black Flag and proved to be a French pirate ship of fourteen guns and sixty-four hands, half French and half negroes, commanded by Captain La Bouse. A great many civilities passed between the two captains, and they agreed to sail down the coast together. Arriving at Sierra Leone, they found a tall ship lying at anchor. This ship they attacked, firing a broadside, when she also ran up the Black Flag, being the vessel of the notorious Captain Cocklyn. For the next two days the three captains and their crews "spent improving their acquaintance and friendship," which was the pirate expression for getting gloriously drunk. On the third day they attacked and took the African Company's Fort. Shortly afterwards the three captains quarrelled, and each went his own way. In 1718 La Bouse was at New Providence Island. In 1720 this pirate commanded the Indian Queen, 250 tons, armed with twenty-eight guns, and a crew of ninety men. Sailing from the Guinea Coast to the East Indies, de la Bouche lost his ship on the Island of Mayotta, near Madagascar.
The captain and forty men set about building a new vessel, while the remainder went off in canoes to join Captain England's pirates at Johanna.
A Bristol man. In 1537, when the Breton pirates were becoming very daring along the south coast of England and Wales, Bowen contrived to capture fourteen of these robbers, who had landed near Tenby, and had them put in prison.
BOWEN, CAPTAIN JOHN.
The practice of this South Sea pirate extended from Madagascar to Bengal. He commanded a good ship, the Speaker, a French vessel, owned by an English company interested in the slave trade, which Bowen had captured by a cunning ruse. He afterwards lost his ship off Mauritius, but was well treated by the Dutch Governor, who supplied doctors, medicine, and food to the shipwrecked pirates. After three months' hospitality on the island, Bowen procured a sloop, and in March, 1701, sailed for Madagascar. As a parting friendly gift to the Governor, he gave him 2,500 pieces of eight and the wreck of the Speaker, with all the guns and stores. On arriving at Madagascar, Bowen erected a fort and built a town. Shortly after this a ship, the Speedy Return, and a brigantine were so very thoughtless as to put into the port, and paid for this thoughtlessness by being promptly seized by Bowen. With these two vessels Bowen and his merry men went "a-pyrating" again, and with great success, for in a short time they had gathered together over a million dollars in coin, as well as vast quantities of valuable merchandise. The pirates then, most wisely, considering that they had succeeded well enough, settled down amongst their Dutch friends in the Island of Mauritius to a quiet and comfortable life on shore.
A seaman; one of the party which crossed the Isthmus of Darien on foot with Dampier in 1681. Wafer records that Bowman, "a weakly Man, a Taylor by trade," slipped while crossing a swollen river, and was carried off by the swift current, and nearly drowned by the weight of a satchel he carried containing 400 pieces of eight.
Of Bath Town, North Carolina.
Sailed with Major Stede Bonnet in the Royal James. Hanged on November 8th, 1718, at Charleston.
One of Captain Gilbert's crew in the Panda. Hanged at Boston in June, 1835.